Turcotte, Heather M. – Surviving Mesothelioma

Turcotte, Heather M.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” That’s what Eleanor Roosevelt believed. To be honest, if I were diagnosed with an incurable cancer today, I wouldn’t know how to react. My mind would race with all the things in life I should’ve and will never be able to do. But you have to look past your fears and believe in the greater good… that maybe there’s a reason this has happened to me.

As James “Rhio” O’Connor did, I would do extensive research online and read a lot of books regarding my illness. I am very computer literate and already spend many, many hours a day online. I also have my own membership at the Polland Memorial Library in Lowell, MA. My curiosity would lead me to research how and why this sort of thing happens. All of this though, I would do on my own time. I would continue to work full-time at my job as a Certified Senior bank teller and go to school part-time at Middlesex Community College hoping to receive my degree in Business Administration and after graduation continuing my education to receive my certificate in Entrepreneurship/Small Business Management before it was too late. I have already done a lot of traveling in my past, so I wouldn’t find it necessary to waste my money on that.

Before I did all this research, however, my first step would be to get as many other opinions as possible that my primary doctor recommends. She’s been there for me for many years now and I trust her with my life. I don’t think I would tell my own family right away unfortunately. They don’t really take bad news very well. Both my mother and my grandmother would heavily overreact and not allow me to leave the house. On the flip side, I would talk to my boyfriend’s family members because they have also had cancer related deaths in the past. I would ask a lot of questions and discuss how they coped with living with cancer.

For treatment, I would do most of my research online through forums and discussion boards regarding what other people went through. I would look up to see if there are any meetings held for this sort of thing. Also, I would consider my other alternatives and what my chances are. Honestly, if other people tell me it made them worse off, I probably wouldn’t do it. I would think outside the box, and discuss with my doctor what conventional or experimental methods of treatment would be best for me considering my age and weight. Depending on what type of cancer I have, there are several new treatment therapies I may be able to participate in. In doing so, I may be part of something that will benefit many others in the future that have the same problem as Rhio and I.

Rhio O’Connor had died from the cancer, Mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body’s internal organs. It can be caused by exposure to asbestos, even though symptoms might not show up until many years afterwards. What makes his story so important is that he was one of the less than 10 percent of patients to live over five years. Before passing away 7 years after being diagnosed, he wrote a book describing his memorable journey called, “They said Months, I Chose Years: A Mesothelioma Survivor’s Story.”

As Rhio did, I would absolutely rather follow a strict diet of wholesome, organic foods including fresh fish and vegetables, eliminate sugar, hydrogenated oils and fried foods and keep my consumption of meat limited to once a week. He consumed more than 100 supplements daily, followed a nutritious diet and practiced holistic. He believed in what the Hippocrates wrote more than 2,000 years ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I agree with this statement. I faint from the sight of needles and I’m pretty hesitant about the thought of doing chemotherapy. If Rhio’s own personal method worked for him, who knows, it may work for others and he may have started a whole new way to prevent the disease completely!

“Everyone must find their own path to healing. If you are interested in an alternative regime, the best thing to do is work with a professional clinician who can guide you appropriately.” This is quoted from James “Rhio” O’Connor himself. I feel happiness would be my best medicine. I love my job, my family, and my boyfriend very much. I would try and spend as much time with everyone as much as I could, knowing I’ll be with them for only a short period of time. From experience, I know someone elderly who survived cancer for many years and it wasn’t until her husband passed that she also passed too. I feel I would be the same. I would live my life as if nothing were the matter and gain the courage to look my fear of cancer in the face and say, “Sorry, not today.”

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